Sunday, August 30, 2009
We went to a church this morning (New Life Fellowship) that had an absolutely positively outstanding worship service. The songs were all new to me so I didn't know the words at all, but from the very first beat something in me just jumped up and said "YES". I was in a crowd that was worshipping and worshipping openly.
Several people began just moving to the front of the church or out of their pews to worship God from the open area between platform and chairs. One woman was actually dancing in the Spirit and it's been a very very long time since I have seen that.
People were even dressed up for church, but it was obviously not a legalistic church issue since a good percentage (including the pastor) didn't dress up. I know, I know, people think it's not supposed to matter and yes, I've been lax myself sometimes as well, but it's awfully nice to see people dressed as though they were going someplace important. (Not that I don't understand extenuating circumstances, but I'm pretty sure there aren't any extenuating circumstances that involve showing up in shorts and flip flops.)
Feel free to comment your disagreement, I completely understand your point - God cares about the inside not the outside. Got that. I even agree.
The sermon was almost the exact opposite of the wonderful awesomeness of the worship service. And apparently I didn't mask it well, because half-way through the sermon a note was passed down to me "Jeanette has a big frown on her face." (It's not nice to make people laugh during church.) :)
But I find it amazing how easily the devil can tell you something that is close to true, but not. Not at all true. It's worrisome.
People tend to listen without thinking more often than not. We're a television society; listen, laugh, say amen, shake the pastors hand. If the pastor got excited, he must have done a good job so you tell yourself it was a good sermon, it was a right sermon, it was truth - because why on earth wouldn't your pastor tell you the truth about the Gospel and the ways of salvation, or how to walk uprightly? Why on earth would a pastor lie about that?
So you say amen, and walk out the door thinking how great it is that you don't have to worry about sin. In fact, if the subject of sin comes up, it's probably of the devil so instead of agreeing with the devil that there is sin in your life you should just praise God for the good stuff.
And that's the easiest path in the world... to hell.
Preachers, please preach the gospel. Please tell your people how they can grow. Please tell them not to be lax concerning their intent to grow closer to God, to learn the deeper ways of faith, to be willing to accept Gods challenge for them to walk in new paths and trust God to teach them as they go. Covet God yourself, spending time praying, praying in the Spirit, and reading your Bible. (And I believe I wrote those in order of importance - feel free to comment your opinion on that, I'd like to hear it.) But grow as well, talk about growing and learning and hungering and being filled so often they start to covet it as well.
If your people have been drinking milk for 10 years, there is a reason - they've rejected meat or no one has ever given it to them, and they were too lazy to seek it out themselves. But milk is not proper sustenance for a mature Christian. They need more. Search the depths of the Bible, as you grow you will be able to find more meat. It will always happen.
God is good. I'm energized and joyful over todays worship service. It could have lasted longer, sang 20 more songs, and I would have been content. Worship is a beautiful, awesome, powerful thing. Incredible. Simply incredible.
Worship Him- faith will grow, for love He will show when we steadfastly worship Him.
Our God is an awesome God.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
"A leader that frets and stresses under pressure is not a leader that followers will find reassuring. There is a need for a certain calmness that comes from confident faith in God’s purposes. Likewise, there is a benefit in a certain laughter. Not drunken laughter. Not distracting myself from reality laughter. Not immature laughter. But confident in God, all is in control, Easter laughter."
I'm not built to be a good leader I think, but I still want this description to apply to me. No fretting, no stressing under pressure. Calmness that comes from confident faith in Gods purposes. Laughter, Easter laughter.
Grief in these times is reasonable, but grief can still come with that certain calmness and confidence spoken of here. I want to stay on that track. And so far, it has not been that hard to continue in that calmness yet.
God is good, He is gracious to me - to all His people - if they could only stop and see it. He will provide, He will comfort - if you allow it - and He will sustain you and I through anything that might come. God is gracious. He is merciful and bountiful in His generosity of blessings towards us even though we are often unthankful or take them for granted.
God is good.
(Quote is from Transforming Sermons - taken from Peter Mead)
Friday, August 28, 2009
Today was a bad day for mom, but by the time I made my daily phone call she was doing better.
But afterwards, my niece asked if she could go for the next visit and I refused since it's been hard on her just hearing my ends of the conversations with mom. I can only imagine what an "in person" drama would do to her.
She began crying and it took 45 minutes to get it all cleaned up.
An hour later, just sitting here thinking logical, rational thoughts my heart broke and tears broke loose like a dam but here is the interesting part; I immediately got goose bumps and began praying in tongues.
El Roi - He is the God who sees me.
It sounds odd to say it but I typically have to "work up" to praying in tongues. Some people can just hit some words off on the fly, but I have to intentionally quiet myself and get into a worshipful state before things like that happen for me. But instantly this time my heart broke and words started pouring out of my mouth.
I'm big on distinguishing the words "want" and "need". If you would like me to pass the carrots, you "want" the carrots, not need. If you are asking for 30 bucks to go to the movies, you "want" it, if you are thirsty and ask for water you "need" it.
So tonight, when my heart told God "I need You to do something." I realized that in my heart I saw it as a need, but I would trust Him even without it. I accept the fact that He has true needs that He is providing and working on for every person in this world and sometimes one persons need conflicts with another persons need (whether we realize we're "needing" something or not).
God might know I need faith more than I need help with mom's alzheimer's.
When two needs collide, God does what is best. Even when it hurts.
It hurts tonight more than usual and I don't understand why. But just as clearly as hurt is present, so is trust. I'm trusting God to see my dad through. I'm trusting God to help us with the decisions. I'm trusting God to help us be patient if we are just in a waiting game to get the bad medicine out of her system.
I trust, and I hurt.
Trust is stronger.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Today was mostly good until this evening when mom decided to leave him. She calls me up asking to move in with me. The medication is stopped (though despite my last post it was stopped the very night of that post rather than decreased. A special thank you to my home health worker nurse friend who confirmed the next evening that the decision was a good one.
Thanks Ms. L.
Tonight though, after an hour of conversation mom was willing to stay with him until I get there. We're all, (and trust me when I say I know how bad this sounds), hoping she just gets through this particular spell and forgets she's waiting on me. Instructions though involved a sign that says "I need to stay here until Net comes."
Dad was having a hard day too. He was trying to "prove" he was her husband and that he'd never left her. The alzheimers counselor says logic doesn't work and she's 100% right. Just makes her angry. It wasn't amusing, but my mom was rude to my dad tonight. "Would you PLEASE get off the phone so I can talk to my daughter." It's awful, it's stupid, but if you knew my mother and how she is never rude, you would have been amused too.
All that isn't about them. It's about joy. Weariness, and joy all mixed into one. I trust God in this, and He is seeing me through with comfort, but tonight He's also brought a touch of joy. Peace despite circumstances.
It's life. Life with all it's bad, nasty, jerky, stupid, disease-ridden rottenness.
And God is good. He's goodness wrapped up inside all the bad, nasty, jerky, stupid, disease-ridden rottenness.
And I love Him. I trust Him to get us through the next months. I trust Him to help us all make wise decisions. I trust Him with her life. With all of ours.
You can trust Him with yours too.
Have peace, let that knot in your stomach go. Breathe. What is the worst that can happen? Bad stuff, painful stuff, but nothing that eternity won't cure. So a bad few years? So an unhappy marriage? So your kids are getting in trouble? So you can't find a job? So you can't pay your bills?
Stressful I know. Hurts, I know, but you can trust in God.
Pray like all get out. Pray till you make no human sense because your agonized heart cannot help but cry out to the one who can help - but pray believing.
That phrase has always intrigued me. "Pray believing" It's only right this second that I realized a second meaning behind those words. It's not only that you pray believing for the answer you're seeking, but that you're believing - believing in God and His goodness, who He is, who He's promised to be, who you need Him to be.
Pray believing. Trust His goodness. He's good. GOOD. No matter what your situation He's still so very good. Trust that when you bring your needs to Him as a child who knows their Father cares.
PS. It's raining in San Antonio. A GOOD steady (though hard) rain. It's been at it for awhile now too. We're in the middle of a 10 year drought. This is a God send.
Sometimes you have to go through a drought.
But God always makes it rain.
P.P.S. A friend wrote about me in a blog. She has a unique knack for describing people - I've always appreciated it - and she was gracious concerning me. She made the word "strange" seem almost endearing. :) She's a fellow foster parent except she is soon to be adopting her two. Lord willing and the courts don't fail.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I will trust and not be afraid.
I'm attached to my cell phone now, making certain that I do not miss any phone calls. My mothers sister is calling, and if my dad calls it is because he needs help.
I will trust and not be afraid.
I've got worship music playing, over and over and over and over and over, and there is a stubborn determination make sure these words stay true.
I will trust and not be afraid.
No disease, no sorrow, no pain today can steal this trust or make me afraid.
I trust, therefore I will not be afraid.
So many things in life come to steal your joy, your hope, your peace. Will you spend the duration of the struggle afraid? Will you fearfully jump at whatever you can do so you can feel you've done something? Or will you wait on the Lord, trusting, not afraid?
It's a lot easier to write than to do. But even though I feel the struggle within myself today, I know that I'm winning. There is sadness and deep grief, but there is also hope. Hope in the God who sees me. The God who can be trusted. The God who is and always will be. My situations don't change who God is.
And despite the fact that most of us know this, we still tend to let it change our perspective of Him. And if it's changing in a good way, as you realize more and more how great and perfect His knowledge and His ways are (even when it hurts) that's all well and good.
But it's when you let it change you for the worse, you don't get the answer you're praying for, safety isn't available, people stay sick, jobs don't come, friends let you down, events don't occur as you'd hope, it rains... those are the times you want to doubt, groan in frustration or anger, want to hurt God for hurting you.
But all that only hurts you more.
I will trust and not be afraid.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I'm sorry if this blog becomes more about the events surrounding my mother right now. I've gone back and forth about writing here concerning her but this blog has always been more for me than for anyone else so I've given myself permission. Writing about these events is my only source of comfort besides God. Hopefully a few of you will stick around even if I'm writing about things that don't speak to you.
Another bad day for mom. She started packing and called her sister to beg her to take her away from the house.
This is the first time her family has been drawn into the drama and they've mentioned a nursing home.
She isn't going into a home.
She was depressed. And again, I'm wondering about the Namenda since the worst of this started after the new medicine began. We're toning it down to the smallest dosage available to see if that corrects anything.
After an hour on the phone tonight, mom was finally able to laugh and have her regular type of conversation (She refused to speak at the beginning of the conversation which made for an interesting conversation.) And dad reported that it had helped tremendously as he could see her countenance had changed. That was comforting as I got off the phone, but at the same time my mind instantly wonders how long will that last? An hour? A night? No, probably not through the night. Nights are too hard on her.
At least one of her sisters is coming to see her tomorrow, which could be very pleasant or very difficult for her. Either way, it will probably be very difficult for them.
Sitting here now, I'm wondering if 10 months from now, when my lease is up, my housing arrangements will be to move in with them to help with her care. The very thought is... difficult. I'm trusting God to make the way and decisions clear to me. I ache, literally ache with the knowledge that I'm so far away right now and that she's hurting so much. She said more times than my heart could take that I was "too far away to do anything" that's why she called her sister.
I'm praying this is only the fault of the medicine, and that slipping her back down to the lowest dosage (5 mgs a day, rather than the recommended 10mg in the morning and 10mg at night) will help.
I hate the devil.
I hate alzheimers.
I hate this.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Yet the words I am holding onto are not ones that I have been reading - but this evening the phrase came into my mind and I have sat here, holding onto it.
The God who sees.
Genesis 16 tells the story of how Hagar fled from a horrible situation with her mistress treating her badly simply because she had conceived a child. Granted, there does not seem to be anything "simple" about the situation. But regardless, the treatment was unjust.
So Hagar runs.
An angel of the Lord finds her at a fountain and questions her on where she is going, and Hagar can only answer that she is fleeing.
The end result has her stating that "Thou God, seest me."
I have scratched my head in the last two and a half months about how a person could suddenly become invisible as I seem to have in this town. It is amazing how people do not communicate with others here, or they simply communicate with those who are in similar situations. But in the last two days I have felt anything but invisible to God.
He has been my El Roi, the God who sees me. He has been the God who hears me.
He has been exactly what I needed.
That does not mean that everything is now perfect, or that my mother has been miraculously restored to perfect health.
What it means is that through the circumstances, He has walked with me.
I have felt spiritually stronger in the last two painful days than I recall feeling ever before.
I trust. I sincerely, and absolutely trust Him despite the circumstances.
I trust. That each phone call I make, He will help me find the words to give her comfort and confidence in her own situation. But that trust has also extended to other things as well. I am less afraid. I have confidence in Him and His ability to work in me no matter what the situation.
I love Him more today than I did yesterday.
I am seeking Him more today than I did yesterday.
I can feel it. And in it, I can feel changes being worked in me.
All of that is personal, and there is no point in you reading it unless you are willing to believe that the exact same thing can happen for you. You must trust in the fact that the God who sees me, and hears me, will see and hear you as well.
The glory of His Spirit and Presence is not something that is designed for me alone. Or for great preachers. Or specific people that you feel are "good enough" for such a thing.
That glory is meant for every broken, hurting person that wants to flee, to run and hide from their lives and situations, for every person that feels they are not good enough, wise enough, or capable enough. He is the God who sees you.
He is the God who sees your job hunt your childs divorce your financial crisis your medical concerns. He is the God who hears you weep, cry, wail, lash out in anger, and pray so hard you no longer make any human sense.
He is there.
He is there in those awful moments. And if you pay attention, you'll find He is there in those wonderful moments as well. The weddings, births, engagements, first steps, friends celebrations, job promotions. He is there.
Wait on Him.
Talk to Him.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The whole family piled into the car and trooped over to the AT&T center here in San Antonio where "church" was produced by Michael W. Smith and Max Lucado. Amazing worship service...incredible atmosphere worshipping with 14,000 other people. Amazing. MWS looked very tired.
After the trauma of yesterdays events I called my parents to see if today was going better, only to find out it most definitely wasn't. My mother, mild mannered and always smiling spent the morning screaming at her ex-husband for leaving her (he's not her ex-husband, she's just delusional during these times), threatened to kill him - including looking for his gun and threatening to cut him to pieces with a knife. She did calm down slightly while she waited for the police to arrive. That's right, she called the cops on him.
Besides deflecting the things Mrs. Hyde was throwing at him, he also got to prove to the police that he was supposed to be there, and the cars that he wouldn't allow her to drive belonged to him.
He's very tired. And we're questioning whether Namenda is actually part of the cause of her new-found violent streak. If you pray for him, or us, pray we use wisdom in making medicinal decisions for her.
I've spent a lot of time just sitting quietly before God today. I haven't the faintest idea what to say and I'm struggling with putting mom out of my mind while I worship. God deserves better than my distraction, and He also deserves for my worship to be focused on Him rather than a constant cry of "please make this better." My mind is full tonight.
That did not stop God from continuing the work He had begun in me recently. He's pushing me to watch my words, to not criticize or complain, but He's also pushing me to begin encouraging others. It's ironic how much easier it is for me to stop one bad habit than it is to start another one. I can stop complaining a lot easier than I can begin encouraging others.
Ironically enough, the pastors message tonight was about our words (surprise, surprise) and how our words are like seeds and they produce after their own kind. If I plant words of encouragement and affirmation, I will reap such - if I reap frustration and complaints, I can tell I have not planted the right seeds.
I sat down tonight to eat supper and pulled out my Bible to read as I ate, and I felt pushed to go to Hebrews chapter 3:8. I read the corresponding passage that ended up from Hebrews 3:7-14
7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
"Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10Therefore I was provoked with that generation,and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.'11 As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"
12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Reading it now, I wonder why the thought occurred to me before, but it seemed as obvious as the nose on my face that exhorting others would help ME not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
It doesn't seem to read that way now that I'm looking at it though, but I'm still holding onto my original interpretation of it simply because I know my own heart. I know the reason that I struggle with encouraging other people is simply because of deceitful sin in my heart. You might not understand, and it might not be something you struggle with, but it's right there smack dab in the middle of my heart. It's one of the few things I can actually say I "wrestle" with. I can feel it rising in me when I try to encourage someone, but God is working on me.
So, until God finishes working this in me you may be seeing me on this topic again soon.
But I want to explain something about why this post is so... odd. Why do I include the days events, the struggle with my mothers alzheimers along with the words of Hebrews 3?
I have an answer, and it is in bold because I want you to read it, and then go back and read it again firmly to yourself.
God does not stop teaching you in the bad times. God doesn't sway all of your teaching and learning to revolve around a hard time you are facing. He expects you to trust Him with that situation and yet still continue to grow and seek Him. Your relationship with Christ isn't about what situations you face or whether you are happy, sad, mourning, or joyful.
It is for all of those times.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26
This evening my phone rang. My dad called. His first words were that he was in a "whole heap of trouble".
It took him nearly a full 45 seconds to finish the sentence.
I'm pretty sure my heart didn't beat for the full 45 seconds.
He'd hidden the car keys from her, but didn't expect her to rummage through his pick up truck getting the truck keys.
She'd gotten in the truck and left.
She's stage 5/6-ish of Alzheimers.
She was gone, and he didn't know where she'd went.
As he explained that she'd been having a really bad day, telling him she couldn't stay in the house with a man (she doesn't understand he's her husband) all I could think about was: 5 hours.
It would take me 5 hours to get there.
It was too painfully far away.
In those following minutes as he told me what happened all I could say was "Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God." There weren't any other words for it. There was no eloquence, nothing. Just the knowledge that He knew the need and all I had to do was climb to His feet and hang my hopes there.
Thankfully, God answered the prayer and she turned around and returned home. My brother and I spent the next 30 minutes telling her that we had hired that man to be there to take care of her and we needed her to stay with him. It got more complicated as she informed us she didn't feel comfortable staying with her ex. (She's bent on the delusion that he left her years ago and just wandered back into the house expecting to live there.)
I could tell you the emotions that run through a person during moments like that, but I'm learning to be strong during these moments now so I did better this time than I would have a year ago.
But afterwards, after we convinced her to stay, after talking to my dad, after spending 2 hours finishing up a vicious game of Star Wars Monopoly with my nephew completely wiping me out, I was able to think past the event to something far greater.
Groanings that cannot be uttered.
When my heart is in such agony that I cannot find the words to say, when my being is so intense on the outcome that I need in a situation, that is when my prayers change to something unintelligible.
And that is what the Holy Spirit does for me. He interceeds for me with groanings that cannot be uttered.
I see it as human and emotional to be so deeply involved in my prayers that I'm unable to form the words, that only an urgent, gut wrenching groan can make it to the surface. Yet, this is how the Holy Spirit interceeds for me.
It was a vivid, though painful reminder of Gods love for me and you.
Oh how He loves us.
All that isn't to say that I wouldn't give anything not to have this lesson. To not learn of Gods love this way. There isn't anything I wouldn't give to have her be ok.
But my God is the such that even in the worst, most sickening moments of my life, He can show me something extraordinary to give me comfort. The same Holy Spirit that interceeds for me so earnestly, interceeds for my mother as well, and for all those people I've scrawled on my little prayer list.
Friday, August 21, 2009
We need a better gospel than the one typically preached.
It seems to me our gospel today is relevant to todays culture, the churches are relevant, the programs are relevant, the teaching is relevant, the mens breakfasts, singles retreats, divorcee ministry, addiction recovery ministry, the Jewish and Davidic dancing classes are... ok, well maybe all of those except the dancing classes but I've been trying to work that into a post for weeks now and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Seriously, San Antonio churches offer everything.
But our gospel shouldn't be relevant to what we're doing. Our lives should be twisted to be relevant to the gospel, not the gospel to our lives. If it is relevant to our lives, then it seems like all the calls to be peculiar, separate, in but not of, are all for nothing if the gospel of Christ is not peculiar, separate.
His blog post got me to thinking about my own gospel. When I tell someone the good news of Jesus Christ what am I really telling them? It seems like we always start with the lesser benefits of a relationship with Christ; peace, joy, friendship, someone to pray to who hears our cries, a comforter, etc, etc. But that isn't the gospel is it? Oh, sure it IS part of the gospel. But that's like trying to sell a hamburger by offering someone lettuce, mustard and fries. It's lacking the true meat of the business.
But I suppose the problem lies in just that. The meat is the part that people begin to reject. The meat is a harder sell because you have to first tell people that they're dying in their sins and there's only one way out. You have to tell them that Jesus Christ, left His Fathers side and setting aside the glory of Heaven He took upon Himself the form of a baby, man, so that He could physically die for our sins.
You have to tell them that if they don't accept it, they will face eternal separation from God.
I think so often we get caught up in our own relational feelings towards what God is doing right now that when someone asks us about our Savior we instantly turn to conversation about our Friend and Father, rather than being suddenly gripped with the reminder of "He saved me. I was dying, and He saved me."
Perhaps then, if we embraced the gospel message ourselves - allowed that daily reminder of the need for our whole relationship with Christ to begin with - we might find it easier to offer the lifeline to those around us who need saving.
It would change the world.
It already did once.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
I'm listening to this song right now; summer, winter, springtime and harvest, join in witness to His great faithfulness, mercy and love.
I'm in a tranquil place at the moment, looking out the window at my tree, ceiling fan blowing a perfect breeze, and my laptop exactly where I like it: in my lap.
And all I have needed, His hands have provided.
It's easy to tell myself otherwise, because often as not, I erroneously put my "wants" in the "need" column. But in truth, all I have needed His hands have provided.
But I've noticed lately that I'm becoming a complainer. I see the negative, and complain about the negative, more than I sit back and enjoy the positive. I don't appreciate that in others, and especially don't appreciate it in myself.
So tonight I retreated to quiet; restraining myself from the negative comments and excessive use of sarcasm. I didn't win the entire battle, but I gained ground and that is progress.
Proverbs 16:24 says that pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones. And as I considered the verse, I had to change my thinking a little bit because I naturally assume the words go out to other people and are sweet to their souls, and health to their bones. Turning it around I saw it from the direction of my own words being sweet to my soul, and health to my bones.
So many sins, and faults we see as harming other people, but most often the people we hurt most are ourselves. In todays culture it seems almost insanity to find some young crippled up, sickly person and say to them that their bad attitude that they have carried all their lives has crippled them and if they would only be more pleasant...
But repeatedly, God tells us just that.
So watch your heart, watch your mouth, guard your attitude. And when you find yourself, just as I did, seeing more negatives around you than positives, stop it in it's tracks. Spend time, as I'm doing right now listening to songs of Gods faithfulness and provision, praying, steeping yourself in His word. And then do not give yourself permission to voice negatives (except in the obvious cases where it is necessary for change or correction). Once you retract the permission to be negative, you'll begin to catch yourself more often until you are able to not only not be negative, but have found those pleasant words that will be sweet to your soul, and health to your bones.
I can think of no nicer, more refreshing reason to be healthy, than the fact that you chose to keep your words healthy and your body followed suit.
Thank You Lord for not letting me blindly continue in sinfulness, and attitudes and speech that do not reflect Your goodness and mercy.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I'm paranoid sometimes.
BUT, in good news, I'm sitting around today fooling with my blog and I've added a couple of nifty features. The first of which:
I'm now on facebook and twitter (I know, I just can't get enough of myself) and now I've finally gotten some nifty buttons to let the world know that. These two little buttons will be hanging out on my sidebar from here on out. Though, if you come across a smaller one for FB please let me know.
I was also able to add some nifty features to the bottom of each post so if you are connected to those things (or practically any of the wonders of the internet) then you can select which one you're connected with and share my post via that method.
I don't know how often any of you share my posts with friends or whatnot, but if you did it's now a lot easier. If you didn't, then I'm just trying to tempt you into doing it. :)
Hope you like the changes, and if you have any housekeeping suggestions/tips/advice for the blog drop me a line!
If you would like to read the entire Q/A head on over to his site -> here.
You teach several classes that deal with scriptural narratives, and you’re big on understanding the (real) main point of individual stories in Scripture. Why do we so often misinterpret the meaning of biblical stories? Can you give us a couple examples of stories whose actual meaning is different than its traditional or surface meaning?
There’s no magic to understanding the Bible; its meaning is not accessible only to a few trained specialists. The often-neglected key to understanding is the context. We quote a verse about God knowing the plans that he has for us, without having any idea that this was part of a letter that Jeremiah wrote to his fellow citizens who had just had their homes destroyed, their families wiped out, and their bodies dragged off to live in Babylon. We read David and Goliath as if it is primarily about God helping underdogs, without recognizing that the giant that David really defeated was Saul. Don’t read verses, read chapters. Don’t read chapters, read books. This is more work than grabbing a verse and going, but accuracy has its rewards.
So visit his site and leave a comment to win!
A contest for people who like free stuff.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I've had a song stuck in my head since yesterday called "I've never been out of His care" and the line that keeps running through my mind is "And although there've been times I've been out of His will, I've never been out of His care." I've really appreciated those words. I've questioned so often in the last 4 months the right decisions to make and after making them (even though I felt confirmation from You) I feel gripped with the idea that it wasn't quite right.
But, my world isn't falling apart with the decision. Whether it was right or wrong, You've blessed me crazily so. I'm becoming a healthier person both spiritually, physically. I'm becoming less afraid of being "normal" and more willing to not be "strong". Trusting in Your strength now more than my own.
I'm shaking my head at how much I thought I trusted You before, when now it seems so much more real, and deep. It's almost as if I didn't trust at all compared to now. The same with how I'm growing to love You more as well. As I learn more about Your love for me and see more clearly Your obvious care and provision in my life I'm in awe of how valuable You are for my life, and how very necessary.
I had the opportunity to testify in church the other night, and when I did I found myself talking like I would write (usually there's a very distinct difference). And as I wondered why I changed how I talked for that moment I realized that my blog called "This Walk" is really just one great big testimony. I've written over 1,071 posts here and at least 98% have been specifically about you and how You're at work in my life. And I didn't even write everything down.
You've done so much for me.
I love You Lord, more today that I even imagined possible yesterday, and I just wanted to tell You that. Today could have been a quiet, mundane day that meant nothing but passing time to me as I wait for jobs to start - but instead it was one filled with hope and joy. Thank You so much for the little things.
I love You.
Who could satisfy my soul like You? (It is in English as well on this video - I just think this is the prettiest version.)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I've been gone the last several days, so tonight after I got back my sister-in-law and I just chatted about work, days, events, and the rest of the months plans. Just catching up.
This weekend I also got an e-mail from a friend of mine. She troops over to my blog when I have been
So I put those two events together to just come online and chat with you. All of you. I hate writing posts like this because I have a tendancy to believe that this is the post you'll click off because obviously I'm not writing anything interesting. I'm not writing about anything interesting. But maybe you'll contribute to the conversation with something about yourself that will make this far more interesting.
Let's start with something simple. Something I don't think I've mentioned about myself before.
My name is Jeanette Poteet.
It's much debated whether giving your full name out is safe or acceptable - I know. But, if you need to find me, I want you to. My e-mail address is flyawaynet at hotmail dot com. Connect.
Life is interesting, but for something specific let's start with the biggest and most basic.
I've moved to the San Antonio area.
I moved here in June and have been job hunting. I currently have two jobs - 1 as a piano teacher that goes into pre-schools and after school programs. I will be able to start that job September 1st. I'm excited about it, and certainly looking forward to getting started and feeling a little more settled in by getting into a real routine. For those of you scratching your head, I was supposed to start Aug. 17th, but the dates just changed today.
I've got another job, a part time job. I'm a waitress at Denny's. Let me tell you, I know I'm insane when I'm so crazy excited to be a waitress at Denny's. I love customer service. No, let's try that again, I LOVE customer service. And while I know this isn't a good 'career' job per se, it's a terrific hobby job that actually pays money for me to go enjoy myself. I started today with paper work but my real work will begin this Friday. I can hardly wait. Yes, I'm nuts. Did I mention how much I love Denny's food? It's got IHOP beat by a mile. Truly.
I've got a church that I'll attend on Sunday mornings, and a bible study program at a different church that I believe I'll attend on Tuesdays.
I feel strangely confused about Gods will here in San Antonio, I don't feel that confidence that I'm right smack dab in the middle of it that I used to feel. I've got a 12 month lease though and so I can rest in knowing I don't have to make any new decisions for 10 more months. I really don't know what I'll do then.
I am slowly adjusting to living with 4 other people. I miss being single and alone, but at the same time I worry about how difficult it will be to adjust back to single and alone if I leave in 10 months.
My mom is certifiably crazy now. The changes from last month to this month are scary - I'm praying with all I can that the medicine I took them this weekend will slow this roller coaster down. Her name is Judy - and if you want to pray for her specifically, my prayer right now would be that God would help with the sleep disturbances. She wakes up in the middle of the night next to my father and freaks out because she's in bed with a man she doesn't realize is her husband. For the first time, my unusual presence in the house breaking up her routine seemed to help her because I was female, and she was nervous about the man in the house.
She confided to me in a private moment that she didn't understand why "that man back there" thought she was going to marry him. It's funny how the same stories can make you both laugh and cry.
We weren't a huggy family growing up. She rarely hugged us kids, but a couple of years into her diagnosis (of Alzeimers) she began surprising me with random hugs. As she worsens, her hugs become even more frequent and she holds on tighter. I hold on a little tighter too.
Course, she hugged two strangers in Wal-mart too, so it takes a little bit of the special away. But it's awfully fun to explain.
God has been speaking to me concerning listening. For the first time ever, I received an interpretation of someone speaking in tongues. But it was just for my ears and I pondered it and while I can't quote it word for word, He was adamant "When I, the Lord speak, LISTEN" He went on, but then repeated Himself. And then at a spanish service I was prayed over in spanish, so I cannot tell you what was prayed, but suddenly both of his hands covered my ears as he prayed and I knew someone else was praying I would listen. I prayed again that I would be able to listen. I don't want to miss something. So if you pray for me as well, pray my ears would be attuned to His voice more clearly than ever
I think that just about covers most of the details. But trust me when I say, I know this is one of my least interesting posts. But YOU can make it more interesting if you'd like. I've got a nice small gathering of regulars that visit my blog now - I see your IP addresses showing up a few times a week, or the few of you that stop by every day, and my handy google reader friends. So, lets ALL catch up. Tell me who you are, where are you at physically and spiritually? Let me pray for you with more information than your IP address or the strange information you searched google for to find me. I'm glad to know you stop by, but click comment and tell me who is reading. Let's catch up with each other.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
It's probably these few brief visits that have taught me the most about boldness and standing up for myself. I learned to know what I'm there for and not be afraid to dig for it - refusing to be distracted.
Then, and only then, do I allow myself the freedom to wander slowly down the aisles of a nearby marketplace, enjoying the unique beauty of the strange items so similar but different to our own stores. To lose focus and simply enjoy the strangeness of the culture around me.
It's in those moments that I wonder why I feared coming here. The beauty and culture, the very life of these people around me is so overwhelmingly powerful in a good way. These streets seem to have a story to tell of so many people walking down these roads, or of those natives who sit on these roads day in and day out struggling to make money for their families to eat.
This place has a life of it's very own - I can't wait to go back.
I worry about reading my Bible. My mind remembers it as crowded with information on every side vying for my attention. It can easily be overwhelming. The chapters are full of things, words with strange meanings, or secondary meanings just trying to get me to to show interest. Words, thoughts, ideas, questions, all calling out to me trying to sell me on multiple opinions or doctrines. If I act interested in one item I'm promptly paraded past verse after verse drawn away from my original search and led down paths that I never intended to to wander down.
It's probably in my many visits there, that I have learned focus, and boldness and the ability to discipline myself. I learned to know what I'm there for and not be afraid to dig for it - refusing to be distracted.
Then, and only then, do I allow myself the freedom to wander slowly through the pages, and verses that lead me down unusual paths. To enjoy lives, hearts and words so similar and yet so very different from my own. To lose focus and simply enjoy the strangeness of the culture within.
It's in those moments that I wonder why I worried about reading this Book. It is vast and valuable, so unique and immeasurable in the very life of it somehow these inanimate pages have a life all their own. I can't wait to go back.
"It is not because [the Christian] has had so little of Christ that he yearns for more. It is precisely because he has had so much of Christ that he is sure God intends him for the perfected experience. . . . Paul knew that what had entered him on the day of his conversion was life of the eternal order. He possessed it; it was there. Yet Holtzmann is perfectly right when he says that, 'Biblical religion in general, Pauline in particular, is a thirst for life.'"
James S. Steward, A Man In Christ, pages 201-202.
(HT to Christ Is Deeper Still)
Monday, August 03, 2009
The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.
It's a quiet evening, quieter than most. I'm getting ready to drive to Mexico tomorrow to pick up my moms medicine. My thoughts circle that only briefly though as I sit in the quietness listening to the song "Mighty to Save" by Hillsong.
My God is mighty to save.
Take me as you find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
Savior, he can move a mountain
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave.
It's a strange sense of broken-ness and disappointment that I feel tonight. I feel absolutely wholly confident in my salvation, knowing full well that for reasons I can't quite comprehend - I am loved and accepted in Jesus Christ.
The broken-ness and disappointment comes from craving holiness so very much and as I dig weeds out of my life I stumble across something so vile and offensive to myself that I can only imagine how God must feel about it.
You see, I've taken verses like the one above about a "good man" and applied them to myself to the point that my heart became proud and I actually thought I was good.
Even now, I instinctively wanted to clarify "not that I'm BAD..." but the truth is -I'm not good.
The Bible even tells me so - "And he (Jesus) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. " Matthew 19:17
And I think today, as I struggled against the thought that I wasn't good enough to suit myself, I received the best understanding I've gotten so far concerning my salvation. God loves me. He loves me to such an extent that He's still working on me. He's still creating in me the masterpiece that He alone knows the outcome of. My sins, my filth and failures don't make Him abandon me to my foolishness - He just loves me and keeps working.
I love Him more today than I ever imagined it was possible. I covet Him more with every passing day. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to be a jerk every once in awhile. Because somewhere deep in my heart, surrounded by the radiance that is Christs goodness - is a little portion of Jeanette the Jerk that just hasn't been killed off yet.
I'm waiting on the Lord, I'm trusting in His abilities to kill off the parts of me that are a dishonor to His righteousness. And I'm trying my dead level best to surrender to His work in those areas.
Because He can. He will. Because He loves me.
I wish I could describe it to you better, but His love has made surrender easy. He is all I need.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Amazingly enough we met through Freecycle, a program where people offer things they no longer use/need so that they can be reused rather than filling up our landfills with more "stuff". Destiny responded to one of my posts and, in what is normally a very brief exchange of information where one person tells the other where/when to pick it up and the other one replies "Ok, thanks!" we somehow began talking about the Holy Spirit and Christianity.
I've talked before about how the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord - well one day several weeks ago I had at least 15 responses asking for the item I was offering on freecycle. I did not pick the first person who asked, but after reading each persons e-mail I selected one of them. I selected Destiny.
And because of that decision, and the subsequent conversations, I now have a church that, while it may not necessarily become home, it's a place I know I will be attending until such time as God leads me to someplace else.
All because I posted on freecycle.
There is more to this post, but I'm not going to try to write it tonight, but will finish it later. This is one of my few 2 parters.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
And I'm remembering a recent post someone wrote about how Christians too often think God has done something for them when in actuality God does nothing except for His own glory.
And while initially, arguments like that resonate with me and I tend to agree - I have seen a pattern of things in my life where I was the only one who knew what God did. So the glory He would have received from it would have only come from me. But that means the only reason God does nice things for me is so that I will glorify Him.
That speaks a lot about motivation. He didn't do it because He loved, but because He would be glorified.
I'm horrible about arguing spiritual points simply because someone who has actually studied scripture (as opposed to my read-and-think method) usually knocks my arguments over with verse after verse. And here I sit with only John 3:16.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
His motivations are spoken of in that verse. It's typical cause and effect. Because God loved us He sent His Son.
Perhaps I get caught away with an overly emotional view of God but, I can't help but believe that God loves us first, and an effect of that is glory.
All that to tell this story.
I went to a church program this morning. They were giving out school supplies so my sister-in-law and I took the kids by at the invitation of a lady we'd met in the supermarket the night before.
2 hours later, we'd stood waiting, while they blared incredible loud hip hop music through the speakers. We'd watched kids take the stage and do "Dance offs", play multiple rounds of "Let's make a deal", and a fashion show. We'd been subjected to a barrage of sales people - State Farm, Allstate, two different home health agencies, credit card applications, jewelry sales, and 2 different entities wanting to take the kids fingerprints.
I saw a world around me that, while some may have known God, I knew many of them probably didn't - and here, trapped in this large auditorium with an incredible opportunity to tell them of Gods love, they didn't. After 2 hours of waiting, (because they only passed out the school supplies twice an hour to the first 15 people in line) we left mid-fashion show.
I walked away disappointed. Where was God in all this? I was hurt, and more than a little tired because I've been bearing the standard "There ARE Christians, true, God-seeking Christians here in this town." and while I have found them, there are just so many other examples of what Christianity shouldn't be here that it's overwhelming.
I came home, snapped at my family, and told them to go on their plans for the afternoons outing without me. Then, I found my quiet place and tearfully asked God "Where is Your Church?"
I could think of no other question than that. I was angry, disappointed, hurt, tired, frustrated, and a few more synonyms for "upset" that I can't think about right now.
An hour later, my family left on their plans.
30 minutes after that a pastor showed up at my door.
He, and his congregant, wanted to thank us for coming to his church last week and talk to us.
They both sat and talked about biblical things with me for an hour.
I was sorry to see them go.
I believe God had a special timing for that visit, maybe nothing about our unplanned and certainly impromptu stop at their church last week was supposed to mean anything for anyone else but I believe God knew I could use some one to talk to today.
And I think He did it just because He really truly loves me and cares about my needs.
And that's why I wanted to write this - to give Him glory.